BIG IMPACT: The Right to Farm Bill is going to have a big affect on local protest groups.
BIG IMPACT: The Right to Farm Bill is going to have a big affect on local protest groups. Trevor Veale

Green groups not happy with government's Right to Farm Bill

MULTIPLE organisations have come out against the NSW Government's proposed Right to Farm Bill, one which will have a huge effect on the protest groups on the Coffs Coast.

The Bill was tabled to parliament last week and and the North East Forest Alliance aren't at all impressed.  

"In a time of climate emergency and an extinction crisis, this is an unprecedented and reprehensible assault on our civil rights, aimed at stopping any future actions to protect our public lands," spokesperson Dailan Pugh said. 

"It is no coincidence that this coincides with protest actions in the Kalang headwaters near Bellingen and Braemar State Forest near Casino."

The Right to Farm Bill includes forestry as an agricultural activity and makes any activity that hinders, or attempts or intends to hinder, logging an 'aggravated offence' liable to a $22,000 fine or imprisonment for three years if a person entering enclosed lands is accompanied by two or more other people.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall has previously said the Bill is designed to send a clear message to animal activists.

Though Mr Pugh said the government have taken it too far. 

"Even if NEFA incites of induces people to enter a State Forest we will be liable for a $11,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months.

"This Bill is intended to increase penalties for logging protests in an attempt to stop any future peaceful protests that hinder logging operations.

"Though a broad interpretation it could mean that even our forest audits make us liable to fines and imprisonment.

"The Berejiklian Government is using the rights to farm as a covert means of criminalising public forest protests. This is a fight for democracy as this bill is aimed at outlawing effective protest."

Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian has also slammed the Right to Farm Bill. 

"This is a completely disproportionate response and a clear attempt to shut down dissent everywhere," Mr Gambian said. 

"This is an illiberal attack on our democratic right to protest and should not be allowed to become law."

"Peaceful protest is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy but hidden within this bill are sneaky new laws which directly threaten that right in NSW.

"This goes way beyond just animal welfare activists on farms.

"These new laws could see farmers who oppose coal and gas projects, communities who protest logging, or even someone who stages a silent protest in a bank in Sydney, face up to three years jail and massive fines.

"It is outrageous that the government have tried to hide their intentions in an agricultural bill when this is a clear attempt from the government to shut down dissent everywhere." 



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